How Acne Affects Teenagers Health
More than 40 percent of adolescents suffer from acne or have acne scarring by the time they’re in their mid-teens, partly due to changes in hormonal activity. Acne doesn’t just affect the skin—it can cause serious health and social problems for teens, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. This skin condition develops when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. Bacteria that live on the skin also play a role. Acne can be mild, causing blackheads or whiteheads; or it may be more severe and cause cysts or nodules.
Effects on Emotional and Mental Health
In a Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health study, researchers found that acne was linked to a higher rate of anxiety, depression and suicide attempts in students between ages 12 and 18. In another study, teenagers who visited dermatologists to cope with their acne had emotional and social difficulties that were as severe as those of patients with epilepsy and disabling diabetes, reports Time magazine.
There’s also evidence that when teens’ mental or emotional symptoms are more severe, so is their acne. One theory is that teens compensate for their mental and emotional problems by eating more junk food, which in turn makes the acne worse.
Although acne is quite common among teens, many still feel angry, embarrassed and ashamed about having it, especially if they have nodular or cystic acne. As their self esteem and confidence tumbles, some teens may start to avoid social situations because of their acne and to cope with their feelings. In severe cases, some teens may develop a social anxiety disorder.
There are many topical and oral treatments available to treat teen acne. They are formulated to treat mild, moderate or severe acne. Some of the more common over-the-counter medications contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and alcohol. Prescription topical medications may include retinoids, which are forms of vitamin A. Topical medications relieve acne in a variety of ways such as removing dead skin cells and reducing the amount of the bacteria--Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes--which plays a role in acne development and removing dead skin cells.
Oral acne medications include antibiotics that reduce P. acnes such as tetracycline and minocycline. In some cases, a dermatologist may recommend that a teen tries a birth control pill, which helps to suppress the activity of sebaceous glands. In severe and persistent acne cases, isotretinoin, which is a very high dose of a synthetic form of vitamin A, may be prescribed.
Follow a proper skin care routine. Cleanse your face with a mild soap in the morning, evening or after a workout, recommends the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases or NIAMS. You should also wear only noncomedogenic makeup, which is makeup that doesn’t clog your pores.
What Parents Can Do
Don’t ignore your child’s acne or make light of it. Watch for symptoms such as your teens picking at their skin or mood changes. A simple visit to a dermatologist can give your child the treatment and advice he needs to clear up acne and avoid complications such as depression and social avoidance.
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